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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Day 4

by Andy Rice 1 Mar 09:19 PST 26 February - 3 March 2024
Simon Diesch & Anna Markfort (GER) on 470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Day 4 © Bernardí Bibiloni / Int. 470 Class

Two race wins for Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort have moved the Germans into second place and just four points off the Japanese leaders after a breezier day at the 470 World Championship in Mallorca.

Yuri Seki, who sails with Tetsuya Isozaki, is one of the most diminutive crews in the 470 fleet. At 1.85m Markfort is one of the tallest sailors in the boatpark and a day like today really rewards leverage and righting moment. While Diesch and Markfort have worked hard to improve their light airs speed, today's barnstorming performance proved GER 11 has given away none of its strong wind prowess.

Bigger breeze

The 14-16 knot stable onshore breeze made for a more predictable race track than the previous three days, although that doesn't necessarily make things any easier. It just puts the emphasis on a different part of the race. The starts are always vital and coming back from a bad start is very hard in a fleet this strong.

In the first race of the afternoon, Isozaki and Seki struggled on the first leg of the course and never managed to fight their way back to the front, scoring a 17th. However they came good in the next race and scored a 3rd, limiting the damage and the loss of advantage to the hard-charging Germans up at the front.

"Catching the best wind and the best shifts was difficult," said Seki. "That's why we struggled in the first race but we had a good start in the next race and we managed to find the good shifts. I'm so grateful to be racing here and sailing in this competition."

Brown undies

Markfort enjoyed the double-bullet day but as all professional sailors like to do, is keeping a lid firmly on any celebrations. "We knew we still had four more races to go in the Gold Fleet before the Medal Race on Sunday. So we knew there were a lot of points on the table. We wanted to take it race by race and I think we did that fairly well. We knew conditions were changing throughout the day and we just had an eye on them the whole time and a lot of really good communication between Simon and me."

One of the great benefits of the 470 is it the windier it gets, the more fun it becomes. Markfort says that feeling of blasting along in high winds never gets old. "I think especially in the 470, where you don't have to wear the 'Brown Undies when it's blowing above 15 knots like in SailGP, we just love going fast in the big wind, it's so much fun."

Portuguese surprise themselves

After a very difficult week for the 2022 World Champions, Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth sailed an excellent race in the second heat to make it a 1,2 for Germany across the finish line. It was a much-needed reminder of just how capable this team is on their day, although Wanser and Autenrieth along with the other high-calibre German team, Malte and Anastasiya Winkel, have struggled for the level of consistency required for success across a long of week of Olympic-class competition.

Behind the peerless performance of Diesch and Markfort it was the Portuguese team, Diogo Costa and Carolina Joao, who were the next best sailors of the day with two 5th places. "We felt good today even if these stronger winds are not normally what we prefer," said Costa. "We usually struggled upwind in strong breeze so it was nice to have the speed today. But my legs are tired from the hiking so I'm going to the physio to get fixed and ready because it's looking like we'll have to hike even harder tomorrow!"

Olympic qualifier update

There are four nation's spots available from the Worlds, one each for the continents of South America, North America, Africa and Europe.

South America: Brazil was the only South American nation to make it into Gold Fleet, so it's in the hands of Henrique Haddad and Isabel Swan to book their place at the Games. Even though Swan is a 470 bronze medallist from the 2008 Beijing Games, she says the Brazilian Federation requires a top 16 finish from them at this event to confirm the spot. Currently they sit in 27th overall.

North America: Having already won the USA trials and with no other North American countries present in Palma, Stu McNay and Lara Dalmann-Weiss know that they are going to the Games. It will be Dalmann-Weiss's second Games and for McNay it will be his fifth.

Africa: The International 470 Class worked hard to help bring two African teams to the Worlds. Although they are battling away at the back of Silver Fleet, there is a friendly fight going on between Angola's Matias Montinho and Manuela Paolo against Mozambique's Denise Parruque and Alcidio Lino. Whichever of these teams comes out ahead will book their place at Paris 2024. Currently it's an 8-point advantage to Angola.

Europe: There are three nations yet to confirm their Olympic berth who made it through to Gold Fleet: Great Britain, Italy and Greece. After a difficult couple of seasons for the British which culminated in quite a bit of crew-swapping during 2023, the game of musical chairs appears to be paying off. Vita Heathcote and Chris 'Twiggy' Grube lead the British charge in 5th overall, followed by Martin Wrigley and Bettine Harris in 7th. Time is running out for closest rivals from Italy, Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini, to displace Britain from the European spot.

Nations Cup

The 470 Class likes to run a competition between the countries, taking the two highest placed boats and placing them in a ranking to see who will take the Nations Cup. Currently it's Japan who are well in the lead with 4 points, Great Britain in second with 12 points and Germany in third with 16 points.

The forecast suggests stronger winds and bigger waves for the final two days of racing. Gold Fleet competition concludes on Saturday with the top 10 teams progressing to the Medal Race shoot-out this Sunday.

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